Journey Along the Silk Road: Uzbekistan
Discover the ‘Jewel of Central Asia’, a land of vast steppes, verdant oases and ancient mountain ranges where diverse cultures produce delicate textiles and stunning art and architecture.
In the capital, Tashkent, discover the modern energy of Uzbekistan. Explore the archaeological legacy of the conquering general Timur (Tamerlane) in the romantic cities of Khiva, Bukhara and Samarkand, which are still crowned with dazzling tiled mosques. Visit Nukus and Timur’s birthplace, Shakhrisabz, meeting village artisans along the way.
Discover a long tradition of arts and crafts, including the intricately embroidered suzani (tribal textiles), exquisite silk ikat weavings, hand-woven silk carpets, miniature paintings, tribal jewellery and distinctive ceramic ware.
This tour is part of the World Art Tours program organised by the Art Gallery Society of NSW in partnership with Renaissance Tours.
Arrive in Tashkent and transfer to your hotel for check-in (hotel transfer included in tour price). Renaissance Tours or your travel agent can assist you with your flights and other travel arrangements, including travel insurance (a condition of travel), accommodation before or after the tour and a room category upgrade.
In the late afternoon, join Iain and fellow travellers for a welcome briefing and special welcome dinner.
Enjoy a full-day tour of Tashkent. Visit the Chorsu Bazaar, the centre of daily life in the heart of the old town, which comprises a unique complex of trade halls crowned with inter-related domes. The bazaar sells everything from exotic dried fruits to fresh herbs, handmade cheeses, freshly-slaughtered meat and colourful handicrafts.
Explore the impressive Tashkent Metro, which opened in 1977 in honour of the 60th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution. Each station has its own unique architectural features made of semi-precious materials including marble, granite, glass, ceramics and carved alabaster.
Drive to Amir Timur Square, with its imposing statue of Uzbekistan’s post-Soviet hero, Timur (Tamerlane). Continue to Independence Square, the largest city square in any of the former-Soviet countries.
Enjoy lunch with the locals at a popular restaurant specialising in plov (slow-cooked rice with meat, onion and carrots), the Uzbek national dish.
In the afternoon, visit the Museum of Applied Arts, with its vast collection of Uzbek traditional crafts. The museum is housed in the former residence of Russian diplomat A.A. Polovtsev, which was built at the end of 19th century in the Uzbek national style.
Following an early breakfast, transfer to Tashkent Airport for a flight to Nukus (Economy Class flight included in tour price). On arrival in Nukus, transfer to the hotel for check-in.
In the afternoon, drive to the Igor Savitsky Museum (Karalpak Museum). This remarkable museum, opened in 1966, is located in the most remote region of Uzbekistan and houses an enormous collection, including antiquities from Khorezm traditional Karakalpak folk art, Uzbek fine art and, uniquely, the largest collection of Russian avant-garde art in the world after the Russian Museum in St Petersburg.
After lunch, enjoy some free time to further explore the Savitsky Museum at your own pace.
Then, transfer to the edge of the oasis to visit the last village of Yurt-makers in the region.
This morning, depart Nukus and travel to Khiva. Along the way, see the remains of a Zoroastrian Tower of Silence (Chilpak Kala), and visit the archaeological sites of Toprak Kala, the 3rd century AD capital of ancient Khorezm, and Ayaz Kala, with its three mud-brick fortresses dating from the 4th century BC to the 7th century AD. Abandoned for 1,300 years, the Kalas (fortresses) were rediscovered in the 1940s by the Russian archaeologist, S.P. Tolstov.
Arrive in Khiva in the afternoon and check in to the hotel. Dinner is at a local restaurant.
After a morning talk by Iain, enjoy a full-day walking tour of Khiva, an ‘open air museum’ consisting of the Dichan Kala outer town and the Ichan Kala inner town, which are protected by a 2.2 km-long sloping brick wall, the foundations of which were laid in the 10th century. Visit Kunya Ark Citadel, residence of Khivan Khans founded in 1680s with further buildings added in the 19th and 20th centuries, and the 19th century Kalta Minar or Short Minaret.
Visit the Djuma Mosque, the main hall of which has over 200 wooden columns, the earlier ones decorated in Kufic and Naskh inscriptions, the latter in the typical Khivan floral-vegetative pattern. Then, explore the majestic Pahlavan Mahmud Mausoleum, with its dazzling turquoise dome.
After lunch, visit the Islam Khodja Complex, consisting of the city’s smallest madrassah and tallest minaret, ringed with stripes of lustrous blue tiles. Visit the oldest architectural structure in Khiva, the 14th century Sheikh Said Allauddin Mausoleum.
Watch the sunset from the city wall before dinner at a local restaurant.
Today, travel to the sacred city of Bukhara, whose historic centre boasts more than 100 Islamic monuments and museums. Along the way, travel across the Kyzyl Kum red sand desert, stopping for a barbecue lunch at a chai khana (tea-house).
In the late afternoon, check in to the hotel in Bukhara, centrally located in the Old Town, followed by dinner at a local restaurant.
Enjoy a morning talk by Iain, and then set out for a full-day tour of Bukhara, a UNESCO World Heritage-listed city which has long been a centre of trade, scholarship, culture and religion. Begin with the perfectly proportioned Samanid Ismail Mausoleum, with its exquisitely patterned brickwork, and then visit the nearby Chashma Ayub Shrine. Visit the magnificent archaeological complex, the Ark Citadel, rebuilt after its sacking by the Red Army in 1920, and the 18th century Bolokhauz Mosque.
In the late afternoon, enjoy tea and oriental sweets in a teahouse before returning to the hotel.
Visit the 10th century Magoki-Attori Mosque, built over an ancient Zoroastrian fire temple, and the Ulubek Madrassah and the Abdulaziz Khan Madrassah, constructed on the Persian model with a large courtyard, divided by four iwans (open-sided arched halls).
Continue to the Kalyan Square dominated by the Kalyan Minaret, the main symbol of city, and enjoy some free time to explore the old bazaars.
Dinner tonight is accompanied by a traditional Bukhara folk performance.
In the morning, visit the old European-style Summer Palace, once the sumptuous residence of the Bukhara Emirs, built in the second half of the 19th century. Today the palace houses a museum of decorative arts.
Continue to the Bahauddin Nakshbandi Memorial Complex, one of the most important pilgrimage sites of Bukhara, centred on the mausoleum of the famous Sufi philosopher, Bahauddin Naqshbandi.
Then, visit Chor Minor, a four-turreted entrance tower to a vanished 19th century madrassah. Built by a Turkish merchant and featuring elegant and non-traditional shapes, the four minarets of the madrassah symbolize the four cardinal points.
Enjoy some time at leisure in the morning to further explore Bukhara at your own pace.
After lunch, transfer to Bukhara train station for the high-speed train to Samarkand (included in tour price). On arrival in Samarkand, transfer to the hotel for check-in.
Begin the day with a talk by Iain before driving to Afrosiab, the most ancient part of Samarkand, to visit the Afrosiab Museum, which features the remarkable mid-7th century mural, the ‘’Ambassadors’ Painting’’, a rare example of Sogdian art discovered only in 1965.
After lunch, explore the expansive territory of the Shah-i-Zinda Necropolis, with rows of richly decorated mausoleums built during the 14th and 15th centuries for members of the Timurid Dynasty. The main mausoleum is said to be the grave of the Prophet Muhammad’s cousin, Kusama ibn Abbas. During Mediaeval times, a pilgrimage to the grave of ‘The Living King’ was equated to making the hajj to Mecca.
Continue to the Observatory built for Timur’s grandson, the astronomer-emir Ulugh Beg (Central Asia’s version of the ‘philosopher-king’). Built in the 1420s, it was considered one of the finest observatories in the Islamic world, but was only rediscovered in 1908.
In the morning, drive in small cars over the mountains to Shakhrisabz, Timur’s birthplace and the second capital of the Timurid Empire after Samarkand. Visit the remains of the grand 14th-15th century Ak Sarai Palace built by Timur, the Dor as-Siadat burial complex, which includes a mausoleum for Timur’s sons Jahangir and Umar Sheikh, and the Amir Timur crypt. Continue to the Kuk Gumbaz Mosque which, with its elegant turquoise domes is an outstanding example of the Khorezm architectural style.
Enjoy lunch in Shakhrisabz. Return to Samarkand in the late afternoon.
After a morning talk by Iain, explore spectacular Registan Square, framed by three madrassahs whose soaring entrance portals display the distinctive Timurid style: the 15th century Ulugh Beg Madrassah, and the 17th century Tilya-Kori Madrassah and Sher-Dor Madrassah.
After lunch, visit the 14th century Gur-Emir Mausoleum with its exquisite ribbed dome decorated in brilliant azure tiles. Originally built for Timur’s grandson, it inadvertently became Timur’s own resting place (instead of Shakhrisabz, as Timur had intended).
Then, visit the partial ruins of the gigantic early-15th century Amir Timur Mosque (Bibi-Khanyum Mosque) and continue to the bustling Siab Bazaar.
Dinner tonight is accompanied by a traditional music performance.
Enjoy a morning at leisure to further explore Samarkand at your own pace.
In the afternoon, transfer to Samarkand Railway Station for the high-speed train, Afrosiab, to Tashkent (included in tour price).
Check in to the hotel in Tashkent, followed by dinner.
Spend the morning exploring the charming sector of Old Tashkent. Visit the Amir Timur Museum focusing on his genealogy, military campaigns, vast empire and important contribution in terms of architecture, science and education development.
Continue to the Abul Kasim Madrassah, built in the 16th century that is now hosting a centre of applied arts with traditional crafts, followed by some time at leisure in the afternoon.
Tonight, celebrate the conclusion of the tour with a farewell dinner at a local restaurant.
Tour arrangements conclude with a transfer to Tashkent airport for suggested late-night flights to Australia. Renaissance Tours or your travel agent can assist you with your flights and other travel arrangements, including additional nights’ accommodation either before or after the tour.
Per person, twin-share
Deposit per person (at time of booking)
Final payment due
08 July 2022
Room category upgrade available on request; please enquire with us.
Please see Terms & Conditions for fitness level definitions.
Please note that a good level of fitness and a sense of adventure are required for this tour. The tour includes the exploration of remote areas of Uzbekistan with basic tourist infrastructure.
Please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for current airfares and flight reservations.
Australian and New Zealand passport holders do not require a visa to Uzbekistan for stays of less than 30 days.
Tour price includes
- Accommodation in centrally located hotels (best available) with breakfast daily (B)
- Meals as per itinerary (L=Lunch, D=Dinner), including drinks with dinners
- Economy Class flight from Tashkent to Nukus incl. taxes (20kg luggage allowance)
- Tickets on high-speed railway from Bukhara to Samarkand and from Samarkand to Tashkent
- Airport/hotel transfers on arrival and departure in Tashkent
- Comprehensive sightseeing including local guides and entrance fees as per itinerary
- Transportation throughout on comfortable, air-conditioned coaches
- Lectures and talks with your tour leader, Iain Shearer
- Gratuities for local guides and drivers
- Hotel porterage (one piece per person)
Tour price does not include
- International airfares (please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for assistance)
- Items of a personal nature (e.g. telephone, laundry, room service, mini-bar, room service, taxis etc.)
- Airport porterage
- Travel insurance (a condition of travel; please contact Renaissance Tours or your travel agent for assistance)
Tashkent – Hilton*****
Nukus – Jipek Joli Hotel***
Khiva – Erkin Palace***
Bukhara – Shariston****
Samarkand – Dilimah Hotel****
N.B. Hotels of a similar standard may be substituted.